Dixon Scott, one of the great talents of Fleet Street, died earlier this month, aged 77.
‘Dixie’ was principally a sub-editor, and many famous writers knew their reputations rested on his huge command of language. In 16 years at the News of the World he daily exhibited the great gift of making dull words sparkle and the good sense to leave better ones alone. He was author of several books. The final one, A Fresh Wind In The Willows, is a sequel to Kenneth Grahame’s masterpiece.
When new subs joined the paper, Dixie was the one to show them the ropes: a few drinks in nearby watering holes, maybe a little snooker. With every glass and every frame came pearls of good advice. Many current newspaper executives owe their early careers to those chats.
Dixon Cowie Scott was born and educated in South Shields, Tyne & Wear. His first job was in an accountant’s office. He wasn’t excited by that, but local reporters daily passed his window. A few conversations later and Dixie decided that newspapers were the future for him.
War intervened and he joined the Royal Navy, serving on the cruiser HMS Cumberland and then in minesweepers. The outcome, apart from peace, was his first book, Jolly Jack Tar.
After the war he joined Kemsley Newspapers. He started as a district reporter in Redcar, moving on two years later to become a sub on the Newcastle Journal. That led to a job on the old Daily Graphic. Later he joined the Daily Sketch, again as a sub, before becoming an executive in the features department. Then came a stint in the spotlight, as a columnist on the then highly successful Daily Mirror.
Finally, in 1971, he joined the NoW and, with two breaks for his own writing, gave us his special skills until 1987. Poor health forced him to retire earlier than he would have wanted. But he filled his time admirably, writing books, TV scripts and comedy sketches and watching cricket at his town’s club, launching a croquet club and sharing the company of his many friends at local watering-holes.
Dixie leaves a widow, three children and eight grandchildren. Son Harry is senior associate editor at the NoW.